A study released by RAND, a nonprofit research organization, projects 25% of drivers will be seniors by 2025. The state of Florida has close to 2 million licensed drivers over the age of 70. Although RAND found that seniors are less likely to cause an accident than the youngest drivers on the road, some states believe older adults pose an increased risk on the road.
In Florida, the DMV may request a license reexamination based on a person’s driving record or physical or mental condition. Prior to a retest, many drivers are turning to online driving courses. Others are using the online courses to lower their insurance rates. Those that complete an online driver’s education course in Florida will either earn safety points on their license or reduced insurance premiums.
A recent blog in the Wall Street Journal highlighted the rise in the popularity of online driving courses for senior citizens. According to the article, AARP’s online driving course has increased in popularity 20% every year for the past three years. In 2010, the group had a record 60,000 senior students enrolled.
AARP touts its Driver Safety Program as the nation’s first and largest course for drivers age 50 and older. The group claims its courses have “helped millions of drivers protect their safety on today’s roads.” For less than $20, drivers can get tips for tuning their driving skills, update their knowledge of the rules of the road, learn defensive driving techniques, and understand the best ways to handle turns, right-of-ways and blind spots.
No physical driving is required in the online courses, and some experts caution that the online courses may not help seniors become better drivers. The Wall Street Journal points out that as people age their “reaction times tend to slow, vision deteriorates and the ability to focus declines, research shows all of which affect the ability to drive safely.”
“Research shows that classroom programs don’t really impact positively on driving performance,” Normand Teasdale, a professor at the University Laval in Quebec, who studies driving patterns among seniors, told RAND. “You need to practice and get feedback over and over again to improve performance.”
However, AARP found that 97% of its online and in-class students changed at least one driving behavior. RAND also found that seniors are more likely to self-limit their driving, and as a result, are not a high safety risk for others. RAND reported that senior drivers are more cautious, avoid driving in poor weather conditions and primarily drive during daylight hours.
Because senior citizens are generally in poorer health and more frail than their younger counterparts, senior drivers are nearly seven times more likely than younger drivers to be killed in an automobile accident.
AARP also offers online seminars for family members looking for the right words when asking their older drivers to turn over their keys for their own safety and for the safety of others.
Our Florida car accident attorneys caution drivers to follow the law when driving and to take advantage of driving courses to refresh your driving skills when necessary. We also ask that drivers conduct periodic self-assessments to validate your driving skills and to ensure you are able to drive safely on Florida’s highways.
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If you were injured, or a family member died, in an car accident or collision caused by another Florida motorist, you may have a legal right to seek compensation for your injuries.
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